New Risks of Youth Exclusion. Nordic Policy Responses in a European Perspective

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 4:30 PM
Room: F204
Oral Presentation
Rune HALVORSEN , NOVA Norwegian Social Research, Oslo, Norway
Mi Ah SCHØYEN , NOVA Norwegian Social Research, Oslo, Norway
Including youth in the labour market is a major challenge facing many European countries, including the Nordic countries. Since 2007 many European countries have witnessed an increase in the rate of young adults neither in education, training nor employment (NEET) and an increase in the number of young adults registered as ‘unemployed’. Despite efforts at adopting counter-offensives to change the negative economic conjuncture through new measures to promote education, training and inclusion in the labour market the rate of inactive young adults has increased the last decade in Europe. Possibly we also see the impact of more long-term trends and structural changes making transitions from school to employment more difficult or variable.

This paper discusses how the Nordic governments have responded to diversity in the youth population and whether country differences in policy measures may account for the differences in unemployment and NEET rates in the Nordic countries. The paper demonstrates that the Nordic countries have responded differently to the concerns about the public expenditures and financial disincentives for the individual to participate in the labour market, the need for an up-to-date and relevant educational and vocational training services and social regulation of the market to ensure an inclusive labour market.

The paper argues that gender, ethnicity and disability represent social categories of high policy relevance for understanding the present challenges to the Nordic welfare states, including their efforts to promote the inclusion of new generations of men and women in the workforce. While the Nordic countries have been at the forefront in adopting policies to promote gender equality the Nordic countries have been more reluctant to adopt policies to ensure equal opportunities independent of disability and ethnic origin. The paper identifies the challenges for the Nordic countries and concludes by identifying the policy lessons for non-Nordic countries.